Sunday's loss at FedEx Field was more of what we've seen from the 3-7 Eagles in this six-game losing streak that makes the 3-1 start to 2012 seem like decades ago.
There was genuine excitement in the air prior to the game. The Eagles had the rookie, Nick Foles, and the plan was for him to come out throwing the football against Washington's 30th-ranked pass defense. On the third play from scrimmage, though, Foles rolled right and threw for tight end Brent Celek. Linebacker London Fletcher was on Celek, tight on his body, and at the very least restricted Celek's view of the pass, which then tipped off Celek's hands and was intercepted by cornerback DeAngelo Hall and returned to the Philadelphia 9-yard line.
It was that kind of day. Two plays later Washington scored on a Robert Griffin III touchdown pass to Darrel Young, a fullback who nobody outside of the Beltway has heard much about, but his score gave Washington a 7-0 lead which proved to be enough on a day when the offense, minus quarterback Michael Vick and wide receiver Jason Avant as well as a new-look (again) line, mustered only a couple of Alex Henery field goals.
Foles, for those waiting for the scouting report, didn't play particularly well. He tossed another interception on the team's second possession, throwing down the field in the direction of DeSean Jackson, who slipped a bit on the route, and safety Brandon Merriweather had an easy catch.
For the day, Foles completed 21 of 46 for 204 yards and the two interceptions. He hung in under some heavy pressure, and most of his completions were screens and quick throws to combat the heavy pass rush. Foles seemed to call a few audibles to counter the blitz, but he failed to get the ball to Jackson (2 catches, 5 yards) and Jeremy Maclin (shut out) and the Redskins were quick to the football whenever the Eagles were on offense.
The running game went nowhere, save for a couple of Bryce Brown runs and a LeSean McCoy burst here and there, always through and around heavy traffic.
So desperate were the Eagles for a solution up front that they started Jake Scott at right guard, the same Jake Scott who had signed with the team on Monday after not taking part in any team's spring practices or training camp, much less a regular-season game.
The Eagles went with a line of King Dunlap at left tackle, Evan Mathis at left guard, Dallas Reynolds at center, Scott at right guard and Dennis Kelly at right tackle, the fifth different starting combination of the year and one that struggled mightily against Washington's defense.
It was ugly, folks, but you already know that.
With 10 minutes remaining in the game, just after Griffin III threw his fourth touchdown pass of the game, the Eagles sideline was a dead zone. What has happened to this football team? Where is the heart here? There certainly wasn't much emotion, very little intensity and no sense of desperation. The defense battled early, but then Washington poured it on late in the third quarter and into the fourth.
You've heard the story all year. The Eagles got nothing going offensively. They were beaten badly at the line of scrimmage. The defense had a pressure or two against Griffin III, but not nearly enough, and once again the defense failed to produce a takeaway. Quarterbacks are licking their chops going against this defense -- Griffin was 14 of 15 passing for 200 yards, 4 touchdowns and a perfect passer rating of 158.3.
There are six games remaining in this incredibly disappointing season, and then Jeffrey Lurie will determine what the next steps are for this franchise. At 3-7, the Eagles are searching desperately for a way to end the losing streak. Even in an NFC East that is there for the taking, the Eagles would have to have a football miracle to turn the season around.
Foles deserves another start, and then maybe another and another after that. The Eagles need to learn more about him. He didn't have much of a chance on Sunday, and with blitz-heavy Carolina coming to Lincoln Financial Field on Monday night, the Eagles will have a huge challenge giving their rookie quarterback a chance to succeed. Vick, who stayed back in Philadelphia recovering from a concussion, seems like he's a long ways away from stepping back on the field.
Head coach Andy Reid, as is his custom, accepted responsibility after the game. He is the head coach, and the Eagles are 3-7 and that's life in the big leagues. The head coach hasn't delivered a winning team. The offense, in part because of injuries to the offensive line but not very good before the injuries multiplied, hasn't been able to create explosive plays all season. The defense hasn't gotten enough pressure up front or takeaways on the back end. Stat: The Eagles have had one interception on defense in the last six games and two in the last eight games after picking off four in the opening-day win at Cleveland. That's almost impossible.
And the sight of McCoy on the field, the team's athletic training staff huddled around him with 1 minute, 45 seconds to go in the game, was beyond scary after taking a helmet-to-helmet hit. How much worse is this going to become?
Things are dire here, no doubt. The concern, having gone through this before, is that a losing culture sets in, one that takes, potentially, years to eliminate. The Eagles don't get leads, they don't create breaks and they have not won a fourth quarter of a game with a close score since beating the Giants on September 30.
What happens at the end of the season is what happens then. I'm not going to get into talking about the future. Clearly, if there isn't a huge, unprecedented run of six consecutive wins by the Eagles, there are going to be massive changes.
Right now, the Eagles are in a very bad state, one we haven't seen in the Andy Reid era save the struggles of 2005 when injuries ravaged this team. There are no such excuses this season. This season is in the midst of a six-game losing streak for a team that had so many high hopes in September, and so much energy early in the day on Sunday.
By the end of the fourth quarter, as the fans left FedEx Field, the Eagles trundled off the field and into another challenging week, searching for answers that just aren't coming.